Francis fulfils desire with pet grooming business
IT CAME as a surprise when Renee Francis’ pet grooming business, Renee’s Palace Pet Resort, was flooded with pet owners from all across the Corporate Area.
In an interview with The Gleaner yesterday, Francis explained that she was unaware of the extent to which pet owners in Jamaica really cared for their animals as there exist many individuals who treat their animals as though they were human children.
“Kingston persons, they love their dog. I don’t know, but there’s a difference with the love that they have than [what] I’m seeing from other parishes,” she said.
But before delving into Francis’ entrepreneurial successes, her story begins during her first year of studies at Norman Manley Law School.
Lingering in her spirit was the desire to accomplish financial independence, and although her parents were financing her education and accommodation at the time, this did not quell that feeling.
So, to achieve her goal, Francis looked for employment, landing a job at a business process outsourcing (BPO) company.
Within the first six months of working there, she demonstrated her capabilities of operating in a managerial position.
She explained that as time went by and the examination season came around at school, she soon realised that she had not been managing her own work-academic life as well as she thought.
This resulted in her failing her first year of law school.
“That was a wake-up call for me, and I decided to resign from the job,” she said.
However, she admitted that this did not change her ambition to achieve financial independence because the yearning simply persisted.
ENCOURAGED TO START BUSINESS
Ashley Francis, her close friend, encouraged her to start a dog-grooming business because she was so acquainted with them due to owning 10 dogs of breeds such as the American Akita, Pomeranian, Papillon, Yorkshire Terrier, and Shih Tzu.
A social media page was created shortly after, and following the grooming of one of Francis’ dogs named Pebbles, the video of the process was posted to the account.
“Lo and behold, persons were actually calling my telephone number to get their dogs groomed, and that’s how I started,” she said, noting that in the initial stages, the business was only open on the weekends so that she could better balance her work and school commitments.
Francis is now an attorney-at-law.
The business, which was established in 2018, started off by offering dog-grooming services only.
Francis confessed to having no prior experience but said that she utilised YouTube to learn every technique necessary to execute the job.
She went as far as to use her own dogs as practice subjects, making sure to get the task done well as she went along.
“I learnt everything you could think of about grooming. I did it step by step ... if a client came and they wanted a particular cut and I didn’t know how to do it, I was very confident .. .and as soon as they were gone, I would bring up YouTube and I would be practising step by step to groom their dog in a particular style, at the time, not now,” she explained.
She stated that as the business grew and there was need for a bigger space to house operations, she began feeling fearful as she weighed the thought of if she had bit off more than she could chew.
Francis initially didn’t enter the world of business expecting it to be as successful as it was, but after the Christmas season of 2019, she was able to make a profit where “if I did not want to work for a few months doing dog grooming, I didn’t have to do that based on the number of appointments that I was getting, ,she said.
The now 31-year-old owes it all to her hard work, faith in God, and determination that have allowed her the opportunity to recently open the doors to the business’ second location in Portmore Pines Plaza in St Catherine.
Her Kingston location is found along Paddington Terrace.
The pet resort currently offers a wide range of services, including dog grooming, cat and dog boarding, cat and dog daycare, dog training, dog importation and exportation, and a dog park where animals can play and interact with one another.
The intention is to create an all-in-one location that can accommodate most of the animals’ demands while making sure they are taken care of when their owners are away rather than leaving them alone at home.
“Some holidays we’ll have upwards of 55 dogs in Kingston that we board on a particular holiday, and sometimes we have to close off for dog boarding because we’re booked for capacity,” she added.
Her devotion to her clients shines the brightest through her willingness to accommodate some of her client’s pets at her own home in Kingston.
“What I would have to do is to use one of my guest bedrooms to house their dogs inside my home as opposed to in the facility,” she explained.
Francis said that she has a genuine love for pets and animals in general and enjoys them the most when they are clean, well-groomed, and healthy.
She said that she ensures that she instructs her staff to treat the animals with kindness.
The boarding dogs and those in daycare are given access to the playing areas during regular business hours and are fed at least twice daily.
When a dog comes in for grooming, the minimum amount of time taken per session is two hours. During this time, the dog is washed, conditioned, have their nails cut, have their ears cleaned, and have their coats detangled and styled.
Francis advises pet owners to use a nail grinder to file their dog’s nails and to brush and comb their animals at least three times a week to help them become used to the grooming process.
Other dogs, she explained, can be clipper reactive, meaning that they dislike the vibration caused by the shears. As a result, these dogs may move around more than usual due to increased nervousness.
“They’ll always freak out. It will always be a fight to groom them. You’ll always have to give them breaks in between sessions to calm them down,” she shared.
Francis implored more Jamaicans to look after their pets and to help get stray animals and those who are suffering the treatment they require by calling the Montego Bay Animal Haven, Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA), or her.
Her next goal for the company is for it to grow and expand its dog park component, adding new and exciting elements that will entice the animals.
“I want Renee’s Palace to be the number one daycare, boarding, grooming and dog park in Jamaica,” she said.
To contact Renee’s Palace Pet Resort, call 876-487-7228 or via Instagram @ renee_palace.